A suspected thief was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car from a vulnerable pensioner – after off-duty officers spotted him working out in their gym.
An 84-year-old woman was left devastated earlier this summer after her blue Mazda 2 was stolen from outside the Mile Castle Pub in Newcastle city centre.
She had been making a trip to her bank but, when she returned to where she had parked the vehicle, it had disappeared.
An investigation was launched and due to the dogged detective work of neighbourhood police officers in the city centre the vehicle was quickly located in Gateshead.
The victim was delighted and full of praise for the police officers who were able to reunite her with her vehicle.
But the suspected thief was never caught and CCTV images were released in the days after the theft in a bid to identify the suspect.
That did not lead to any immediate arrests but on Wednesday two off-duty officers were working out in their local gym when they spotted the man from the CCTV images.
They contacted the duty sergeant who sent officers down to the premises in Newcastle city centre and placed the suspected car thief under arrest.
Inspector Karen Madge, who leads Northumbria Police’s Newcastle city centre neighbourhood policing team, has praised the off-duty cops.
She said: “This incident had left a vulnerable woman absolutely devastated and we have been determined to identify the person responsible.
“We have been carrying out extensive enquiries, including speaking to local businesses and releasing footage of a suspect to the public.
“But ultimately this arrest is the result of the vigilance of two off-duty officers who have recognised the man while working out at their local gym.
“This case proves we are never off-duty and remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society even after we’ve taken off our uniform.
“Our investigation will continue but I want to thank those two Police Constables for their vigilance and professionalism.”
The 25-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of theft from a motor vehicle that took place on Wednesday, August 26. He has since been released under investigation.